A Graceful December

It was the first time I sat down all day.

I grabbed a blanket, listened to the fire crackle, and gazed into those twinkling lights. The kitchen was clean, most of the toys were put away, my children were asleep, and just for a moment my house and heart were still.

I thought, "Lord, if it was always this way, like it is in quiet moment, I could really celebrate your coming to us." And with that thought still lingering in my mind, our huge tree crashed to the floor. The twinkling lights pulled out from the wall, ornaments were shattered, and I could hear the gallon of water in the stand pouring out onto my carpet.

You could say, my December has seemed everything but graceful.

I am utterly exhausted. Not from all of the Christmas parties, shopping, and looking at lights. I am exhausted from life. My heart is so weary and my body is tired.

Life doesn't stop for Christmas.

This was going to be the year I made the cute Advent calendar. I really wanted to spend a day baking cookies with my two year old. I wanted to enjoy wrapping presents and have them look like they could be found on Pinterest. I wanted to make those cute handprint ornaments with my children. After all, babies don't keep. And I had really big plans to host a Christmas party for our friends.

The reality is, I am very proud we have our decorations up this year.

Just last week, I sat in my baby's hospital room, after his second surgery in three months. (

The surgery we didn't want him to have

). We have journeyed a long road with him. We have recently made big decisions that will affect the rest of his life. We have visited countless doctors asking for second opinions, who all say the same thing, and most of our afternoons are spent in therapy.

I watched his little chest rise and fall and listened to the rhythmic sound of his breathing while he slept peacefully. He was attached to all types of tubes. Those feeding him, giving him fluids, and monitoring him. As my heart completely ached, and I wiped tears away from tired eyes, I felt the Spirit say to me, "This is why I came."

I'm writing over at my friend, Molly's, blog today. Click

here

to finish reading the good news the Lord shared with me in Micah's hospital room.

 Thank you for journeying with me throughout these pages. And more than anything thank you for praying for our sweet boy! Merry Christmas, my sweet friends, I'm praying He feels extra near to you today.

All my love,

Jessica

The Healing Garden

I had been up for a solid 72 hours.

The previous week, I had only slept at most for two hours at a time. During our fourth hospital stay, they sent my three month old home with a NG tube (a temporary feeding tube, the one that goes down the nose). Long story short, it was nerve racking, I was learning how to use a pump to feed him, and he hated it. I was missing work, frantically calling every person I knew, trying to get us in with Pediatric Surgery in hopes of getting a permanent G Tube placed so my child could survive.

It was our fifth hospital stay in three months. And I was scared, exhausted, and feeling helpless. My back ached from sleeping another night on a terrible excuse of a couch. My neck was sore from the maxi pad pillows that creak louder than the couch. But more than anything my heart ached for my baby.

He hadn't eaten in over 38 hours.

His IV came out.

They tried several times to stick him. Because of that, we weren't sure if he was getting pain meds from the G Tube surgery the morning before. He was uncomfortable and hungry. They kept telling me he was getting what he needed from the IV. And yes, he wasn't dehydrated, but nothing had filled his little belly for over two days. They only way he would not cry was if my husband or I would hold him. That made sleep for us even more impossible. And to make matters worse, although they were only doing their job, every single time we would FINALLY get him to sleep, a nurse would come in to take his blood pressure or temperature. And the whole ordeal started again.

It was the longest night ever.

But really, it was a compilation of three long months of no sleep, mothering a very sick child, and fighting with every ounce of energy in me to get him what he needed to live. I was slowly watching my child starve to death right in front of my eyes.

The daytime nurse waltzed in, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for the day. I was secretly jealous of her rested and put together appearance. Being that I was still in the clothes from the day before, and for the past week, I had seen nothing but yoga pants and messy buns.

The specified time that he had to wait to eat after surgery had come and gone, and my legs couldn't bounce him anymore. Between shift changes, they were behind in giving him meds, and at that point, I was crying with him. I told her how we were past the time he needed to wait to eat after surgery, begged for her to get orders from the doctor to feed him, and to bring him pain meds as soon as possible.

Not knowing the night we had endured, or the previous months of fighting for this baby, she asked me if I needed to take a walk in the "Healing Garden" to clear my head. Apparently I had gone crazy at this point, if she thought I needed a little stroll.

Um, ma'am, no.

What I need, is sleep, for my baby to eat, and get his meds. The "Healing Garden" was the last thing I needed. I started to cry, like ugly cry, and I think she realized that wasn't the best suggestion. She was perfect the rest of the day in getting us what we needed.

I constantly am walking through different seasons with the Lord. The one we just came through was really hard. It was all I could do to make sure we were just surviving each day. But in the end, God was once again faithful. My baby is being fed through his G Tube, we have lots of therapy in hopes that one day he won't need the tube, and he is growing and gaining weight. I have never been more thankful to buy bigger clothes and diapers.

Although our circumstances change with different seasons, really this

whole journey

with the Lord is a walk of healing. In the words of a dear friend, "sanctification is beautiful, but so painful..."

I find myself once again,

praying for healing

. And this time, the "Healing Garden," is exactly what I need.

I have been working through some pretty heavy heart stuff, and it's so hard. It hurts. It makes me angry. And I just want to be over it. Sometimes I move too quickly from things, and Papa brings me back to them and says, "Stay here a while. Let's really work this out. And as we do, I'll make the garden of your heart bloom and grow until there leaves no trace of what held deep roots before."

But I don't like that. It takes too much time and too much energy that I feel I already don't have. It's uncomfortable to say the least. But when I unlock that garden gate, and allow Him to come in, I find Him there in the garden of my heart. Tenderly pulling out ugly roots, and planting new seeds. It's another opportunity for me to know Him. And really, although He knows every part of me, it allows me the opportunity to let Him.

The other night, I sat in the corner of my closet, and asked Him why He hadn't healed that part of my heart yet. I've been asking Him for some time now. After a good cry, and my husband praying over me, I closed my eyes for the night and trusted He saw me there, crying in my closet earlier. He gave me a dream that night, and in the events of the dream said to me, "I am not a God who loves you and leaves you. I am not finished with you. I will come to you."

Photo by

Rachel Ackerman Photography

He will come to you, dear sister. He isn't finished with you. And although opening the gate to Him in your healing garden is so hard, and extremely painful, He will not love you and leave you. He will meet you there, in tenderness, on His knees, lovingly working through the old and replacing it with new.

I'm not sure what's in your garden, but I know just like me, you have one.

And I'm praying that He will give you and me grace, even now, to invite Him in.

“Come, let us

return to the

Lord

;

for

he has torn us, that he may heal us;

he has struck us down, and

he will bind us up."

Hosea 6:1 ESV

A Word to All The Mamas

Our bags were thrown on the counter, still packed from our hospital stay.

Brandon was frantically searching for the "therapy" paci. It's supposed to strengthen his suck, they say. I was

holding

wrestling my very sick seven week old, begging for him to just drink an ounce. I held him the way one of the thousand therapists showed us at the hospital when he decided to stop eating. But even with professional techniques, his nails dug into my skin, his back so arched he was basically standing on my leg, and his little, tiny frame desperately begging to be nourished.

He was exhausted from being poked and prodded on in the hospital. After all, learning to eat has been a long journey for him. I was running on fumes. Not just from the hour of sleep I got the night before, but from the seven weeks of mothering a sick baby... and an 18 month old. My husband rubbed my back, trying to be strong for me, but after the week we just endured, I knew he was just as scared. Just when I thought there were no tears left to cry, I felt a single hot tear drip down my face. And it turned into a waterfall of the emotions I had been holding in over the last few days.

Just like my baby's little body, my heart felt malnourished.

Dry. Bone, slap, dry.

And then I heard her words, "You are leaving a legacy. These babies, they will be Kingdom Warriors. I know you're tired, but you're doing it, mama. This legacy, this story, is so much bigger than you. Bigger than you can ever imagine. Keep doing it! Keep doing it, mama!"

And then I prayed for grace and patience, put that bottle back in his mouth, and got another ounce in him.

Adoption is hard sometimes. The waiting. Paperwork, pre-placement visits, post-placement visits, more paperwork, the money...

Bonding with a child that doesn't look like you, or share your DNA. It's hard if I'm being honest. The questions. All the questions. Explaining your life story to everyone. All the time. The pharmacist was the most recent inquirer. When all you want to do, for heaven's sake, is get the medicine that might work, this time. "Yes, I understand he does not have my last name. But he is mine. I promise, he is mine. No, I don't have his Social Security number. Try this last name, and see if he comes up. I understand, but this is all I have. I am his mother, and this is all I have." Hard. And frustrating.

Being a mama is hard sometimes. Honestly, lately I've found myself jealous of other mamas and their healthy kids. The posts on Facebook of their 3 week old sleeping through the night drinking 10 ounces of milk, breastmilk, that is. (Not really, but really.) And I'm over here, up every thirty minutes, walking up and down the hallway upstairs. Bouncing, twisting, singing, crying. Praying maybe the next feeding will be better.

My dear husband walked in the door the other day, and said, "Have you seen yourself today? You look a little frazzled." I ran to the bathroom and literally busted my gut laughing so hard. It felt good to laugh.

And PS I can't believe I actually posted this. But it's real. This is real life, people.

In the middle of the night when I walk down the stairs to get a bottle from the fridge, I see that

white couch

. And my heart literally aches. Almost grieves. In between screams, I go and lay there for a few seconds. Not saying a word, just

breathing

. Knowing that He is always with me and I can find My Place in Him, but wishing for the minutes where I could sit and pour out my soul to Him, there, in our place.

The last few weeks, I have offered up the most pathetic prayers. And I'm okay with that.

Sometimes, the best we can do is turn our hearts toward His.

 I'm not even sure most of them contained words, mostly groans, but I know they were heard.

Even though he hadn't eaten much that day, I still went. A night with my friends. We ate sushi and drank a good glass of wine. And a few hours away did my heart such good. I was feeling strong enough to pick up the babies and keep doing this mother thing. Right as we were leaving, I ran into the mother of one of my sister's high school friends.

She pulled me aside and before she opened her mouth, I knew the Spirit was about to speak to me. She went on to tell me that she woke up in the middle of the night the previous week and started fervently praying for me. Tears started streaming down my face, because the time when she was awake praying for me, I specifically remembered being awake walking him, praying for him, begging for his healing.

Her normally sweet, soft voice, had a tone of Authority. Although there were hundreds in that room, it felt like it was just her and me. I could almost feel the Spirit's hands cup my face. She said, "Listen to me. I feel that God has a word for you. He wants you to know that you are leaving a legacy. You are building a legacy. Changing diapers, walking and bouncing and twisting a sick baby, you are raising Kingdom Warriors. And this Story, that you find yourself in, is so much bigger than you. You can't even imagine how big. What you're doing matters, mama. I know you're tired. I know you're heart is exhausted, but what you're doing matters. It matters for the Kingdom."

As I was wiping tears from my face, she hugged me, told me she was praying for me, and walked away. Just like that. An obedient sister. She had no clue the taste of her words, to my parched heart.

So after quite the scare with our little man, and our hospital stay, I am more than happy to scream to you that HE IS EATING!!!!! And not just a few times, but EVERY (almost) FEEDING. Now it takes some serious effort, a completely silent room, a swaddle, a kung fu hold, and an unbelievable amount of patience. We are starting all kinds of therapy, and are so thankful to finally get some help and relief. I have seen more smiles in the last few days, and heard the sweet coos of a happy baby. AND, wait for it, he's sleeping through the night! Yall. Say it with me, "sleep!" I've never been more thankful for sleep in all of my life!

Last night as I was praising God for an empty bottle, I realized I can't be the only one who has ever felt this way. Whether your an adoptive mama, a bio mama, a waiting mama, a sleeping-baby-through the night mama, a breastfeeding mama, a formula feeding mama, a mama to one, or a mama to fifteen, there comes a time in every mama's life when it's all too much.

You feel like you will never sleep again. Ever. You walk around smelling spit up all day. It's almost like your bladder gets the memo and grows a little larger. You learn to nibble throughout the day, because there's no way you're eating at mealtime. Your sweet husband who normally tells you how beautiful you look, will sometimes ask if you've looked at yourself that day. You'll find stinky milk cups under the seat in the car, and if you have to put that kid in time out one more time for that same thing...

You long for the days when you can sit with Him. And then you realize, when you can't seem to get to Him, He always finds a way to get to you. It might be through a text from a friend, the prettiest cloud, a little bird's song, or honestly, the fact that there were no clothes in the dryer and you could simply move the wet ones over. I love when that happens.

Then sometimes, an obedient sister, opens her mouth and speaks straight to your soul.

However He does it, He finds a way to pursue your bone dry heart.

And He says, "Listen to me. I am writing a story that is bigger than you. It is bigger than you can ever imagine. Those sweet babes who you love so much. Through them, you are leaving your legacy. Every diaper you change, every second of sleep lost, every bedtime prayer, every song about Me, every big prayer you pray for them, you are training Kingdom Warriors. What you're doing matters. I know you're tired. I know you're heart is exhausted. Let me be your rest. Find your strength in me.

It's okay if your prayers seem pathetic, I especially lean into those."

You're doing it, mama. You're doing it!

*Photo by Rachel Ackerman Photography*

What you're doing matters.

It matters for the Kingdom.